After 6 years with IQPC, I thought it was time for us to find out a little more about our dynamic and much respected Enquiry Sales Manager, Mike Ringo.
Among other things I wanted to know more about who Mike is, what he likes and at times dislikes about the job and his views on how to develop and progress both in sales and at IQPC.
What is your current role here at IQPC and how long have you been with the business?
I’m currently the EQ Team (Inside Sales) Manager and have been in this role since August 2013, so a little over five years. But I’ve been with the business since October of 2012.
How would you describe the culture in your team?
The team culture is definitely that of a family. Some of the activities we have done over the years within the team have been Friendsgiving, Holiday Grab Bag, Sunday Football tailgate, rock climbing at Chelsea Piers, Glow Kickball, plus countless team lunches, breakfast, happy hours, etc..
I spend more time with my reps than I do with anyone, besides my wife and dog, and don’t think I would have the same drive and passion every day if not for them.
Can you sum it up in just three words?
Gotta Want It
So what attributes do you look for in a Rep? What type of people succeed in EQ?
First and foremost we look for people that fit within our IQPC core values: passionate, determined, innovative, collaborative and agile. Besides those, for EQ reps in particular we look for individuals that have strong organizational skills, the desire and drive to be successful day in and day out, plus previous sales or account management experience is a real advantage. But inbound selling isn’t something that is a common past experience skill, so ‘coach-ability’ or situational fluency is also really important.
And what does a typical day look like? What are best and toughest parts about the job of an Enquiry Sales Rep?
There really isn’t a typical day due to the number of events that a rep sells on. We aren’t portfolio specific or subject matter experts in a given industry, but what we work to become is experts in the value proposition of IQPC events and our inbound sales process. To really master this a rep must work daily on a host of different areas, for example their response times, lead and pipeline management, referrals and perhaps most importantly how to create a positive experience for our customers over each and every contact point.
In my opinion the best parts about the job are that outside of showing up to work on time and putting your blinders on during power hour, as long as you hit your KPIs no one is going to, or wants to, micro manage you.
Secondly it’s the family and team culture we instil and the finally its the opportunity to sell across a wide range of the events. This variety means we are constantly learning about new industries and topics and that helps to keep things new and interesting.
As for the worst parts, I ‘d say that, like any sales job things can become monotonous. This is why in our on-boarding process I ask our reps to set short, mid and long term goals for themselves so they have things to work towards versus just coming in each and every day and going through the motions.
Cross department communication can also be tough sometimes, We’ve worked hard on breaking down silos but it’s a complex business and there is still more we need to do to ensure that information flows well and that we are kept in the loop with business changes as they occur. Finally, while the nature of our role means we literally need to have people sitting by the phone at all times, I know the team would love the chance to get out to more of our events. We do send top performers to some LSE’s, and give reps the chance to go down to local events and check in with clients, but it would be a nice reward to be sent to an event for the duration so they can really see all that hard work come together onsite. Something to work on in 2019.
Does the team get the chance to socialize much together?
One of my informal job responsibilities, is acting as an adviser to our Culture Club here in NY. Initially I used to do non IQPC affiliated activities such as Happy Hours or an annual trip to a New York Yankees Baseball Game, but as we have built out our HR Department we’ve incorporated this into a more formal Culture Club that is tasked with putting together activities around health and wellness, corporate social responsibility and social stuff too. So while we still do lots of team events, we’ve also really been pushing company wide activities to encourage cross department interactions and facilitate an inclusive work environment,.
Can you tell me a bit about career progression at IQPC, are there opportunities for development? And how are they supported?
When I first started at IQPC, the EQ team was four reps, now we’re currently sitting at fourteen inclusive of me. After just ten months in the role, I was put into a selling EQ Team Lead position. This was a great opportunity for me early in my career, when the team was a bit smaller, to develop my skills. Skills that, as we grew, became imperative towards day to day fluidity and keeping the engine well oiled.
In addition to this opportunity of growing the local team and revenue underneath me; I’ve also had the ability to co-host global EQ webinars, be first a participant of, and then later a trainer for, the Global Talent Program which incorporates managers from all across the world and most recently trial manage an SSON Analytics team here in NY.
IQPC is 100% a place that if you prove yourself to be an asset, they will line up your skills to maximize your business contribution and reciprocate that effort with advancement and opportunity.
Sales is sometimes seen as a ‘less desirable’ career choice these days, why do you think that is and what would your counter argument be?
To anyone who says that Sales is a less desirable career choice I will tell them to read a book by Daniel H Pink titled “To Sell is Human”.
Sales is a skill, just like being a carpenter or a professional basketball player and it takes years of practice and will/grit to be successful in developing that skill.
Prior to IQPC I was a licensed Stockbroker on Wall Street, which sounds like a more “desirable” career right? I was essentially a hyper aggressive, inside sales rep making 500+ phone calls a day, but again it sounded good. While I valued my time in that role and still maintain relationships with the people I met there, I would choose IQPC over Wall Street every single day.
And what advice would you give someone looking to start out a career in sales?
I tell everyone that I interview who is fresh out of school, or even looking at moving to sales after starting their professional career in a different field, that sales is a transferable skill. If you are a chemical engineer you may need to ‘sell’ your company on the idea of funding a new project or research piece. If you are a teacher you need to convince, i.e. ‘sell’ your students on the value of doing their homework. In both of these examples you are selling, the only difference is that you are not directly creating a transaction that generates revenue for your company.
However while it is transferable, if you go into a sales career with a Plan B you will never be successful in that role. So fully commit or don’t commit at all.
Finally I have to ask you’ve been at IQPC for a while now. What keeps you motivated and committed to the business?
I have had two quotes taped to my computer since day one at IQPC:
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”, Sir Winston Churchill
“Great things may come to those who wait, but only things left by those who hustle”, Abe Lincoln
Through my time at IQPC we’ve run hundreds and hundreds of events, and cancelled more than a few too. We’ve had multiple Marketing Directors and I’m extremely thankful for Alexa who has brought stability to that department, plus all of her people who work hard to make our EQ Team success possible.
Over the years here I’ve worked with various Production Team Leads, but have always had the stability of Kate Bentley’s leadership as our MD and the support of a number of core individuals such as Mario, Simon and Heather who oversee the development of our products. Plus our Customer Service and Finance team has been headed up by Anita through my entire tenure with the business. And while there will always be, and should be a bit of healthy competition between our Sponsorship and Delegate Acquisition Sales Teams, the relationships between our departments has only improved under Chris’s leadership of that division.
All of the these individuals and departments are the reasons that keep me motivated to come in and commit as much as I can to the business.
And of course, there is the not so small matter of the leadership and mentor-ship of my manager Paul Rocco who, throughout my time at IQPC, has been invaluable to my career development. Finally it is the friendship and camaraderie of Sean (Our Delegate Sales Manager) and of course the bond I have with my reps that gets me through any of the down periods. Together we maintain that much needed enthusiasm each and every day and continue to hustle as much as we can!